The Cats of Islamic Cairo: A Photo Essay

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All images by Walter Rothwell. Used with permission. 

Photographer Walter Rothwell is a very interesting one. He’s a street photographer–and a damned good one. He’s also partially blind. Plus, he’s travelled and done his craft for many years now.

For some time, he lived in Cairo on and off working on a documentary but found the locals to be not very welcoming to street photography. “I have been photographing in cities for years but never experienced anything like it. I explored various parts with much the same result.” says Walter. “One of the more interesting, and unfortunately less welcoming neighbourhoods, is an area called Islamic Cairo, established over a thousand years ago the streets are intricate and maze like, they are also full of cats.” So, Walter started to do what most people prefer: photograph cats. So much so that he made a book of these photos.

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“I decided to approach this from a street photography point of view.” says Walter. You see, back in 1992, there was an earthquake. That lead to neighborhood garbage dumps and attracted cats.

Walter says that this was a very enjoyable but also unpleasant piece of work for him. “Enjoyable because I love cats, I grew up with six of them in the house and love watching their behaviour.” he says. “Unpleasant because they mainly hung around foul, stinking rubbish heaps and bins, almost overpowering in the heat of the day. Their other favourite haunt was the butchers shops, groups of stray cats and dogs would gather outside waiting for the next bucket of chicken guts to be thrown into the street.”

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